A species of South American killer spider hitches a lift to the U.S. in a coffin and starts to breed and kill.
Back when I first saw Arachnophobia, it would’ve been the epitome of my second greatest fear (heights being the first). For much of my life, I was Dr. Ross Jennings (Jeff Daniels) – completely incapable of dealing with spiders in any rational kind of way, and prone to tears if unable to flee.
Things have changed a bit since then*, but this movie is still able to dredge up a good amount of that good old spider-induced anxiety that I remember. Especially because the “baby” spiders in Arachnophobia are a similar kind of spider to the ones that regularly show up in my house**.
And that’s kind of the strength of a movie like Arachnophobia, isn’t it? It’s scary because there could be a spider on the toilet, or in the shower***, or in your bed****, or anywhere – and you probably wouldn’t know it. That this movie has the added bonus of those spiders being lethal might provide an added element of fear for the characters within the movie, but I don’t know if it’s actually all that important for the fear it creates in us as viewers. In our imaginations (and in Australia), every spider is already out to get us.
Funnily enough, I can’t help but feel like the makers of Arachnophobia intentionally did a lot of work to undercut the horror of the movie. Sure, there’s a decent body count, and there are definitely some scary scenes that set my insides to fluttering (SWARMING SPIDERS ARGHHH!!), but there’s also a lot of comedy (not just when John Goodman is on screen) even in those scary moments. Almost as if they wanted to make it so people weren’t too scared to go and see the movie in the first place.
I wonder if I’m right about that? Hmm.
Anyway, Arachnophobia is great. Much better than I remembered, even. I guess my own version of spider therapy was good for more than I originally realised.
* Spiders make great macro photography subjects, so I literally cried a lot of the fear out of myself
** In fact, the ceiling of my room was covered in baby huntsman spiders just the other day – for the second (thankfully less traumatic) time in my life
*** Hilariously enough, this happened to my mother recently
* Less hilariously, I often have spiders walking over me while I’m in bed